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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

In Search of Ivan's Legendary Library

For the past two weeks, since Pravda reported that a Russian archeological buff had located Czar Ivan the Terrible's long lost library, bus-loads of treasure hunters have been flocking to the sight in hopes of striking it rich.


The treasure seekers believe the words of Ivan Koltsov, 66, who said that Ivan the Terrible's 16th century library is buried in an underground city beneath a monastery in the small town of Alexandrov, 100 kilometers northeast of Moscow.


But historians and government officials are debating the authenticity of Koltsov's claim and are concerned that the "grave robbers" are wreaking havoc on the town's historical sites.


"It hurts our work", said Anya Kolupayeva, an expert at the Ministry of Culture's museum department in Moscow. "Graverobbers are coming by the busloads and we don't have enough militia to stop this vandalism".


But Svetlana Glibman, deputy director of the Alexandrov Historical Museum, said there may be some truth to Koltsov's claims.


"We would like very much for the library to be discovered on our territory", Glibman said. "It would be top news around the world. Historical documents do say that Ivan moved the library here".


Ivan the Terrible's library is believed to include ancient Greek and Roman texts, second-century Chinese texts, and documents from Ivan's own era, 1530 to 1584, that illustrate how Russia's first czar unified warring Russian tribes and conquered regions such as Siberia to create the foundation of modem Russia.


The library is also said to possess "black magic" texts so terrible that Ivan's translators refused to do their job. They were afraid that the czar, who had a reputation as a ruthless tyrant, would use the knowledge to further terrorize his citizens.


Archaeologists have long argued whether the library is in Alexandrov, the capital of Ivan's fiefdom, or in Moscow, buried in secret chambers under the Kremlin or packed within the Kremlin's thick walls.


Koltsov, who worked as an engineer at a Moscow construction and research institute until retiring four years ago, said he believes that while most of the library is buried under Alexandrov, some of it is under the Kremlin.


Koltsov said he identified Alexandrov's underground city through metallurgical instruments he created. He believes there are different layers of the underground city, the deepest of which is 30 meters.


He also said the monastery guarded the books until the 1917 Revolution.


"I'm sure the library is down there and that the monastery closed off the entrances with stone blocks", said Koltsov, a member of Russia's Geographical Society who has been searching for the library with a group of colleagues for the past 16 years. "All over the world, old books are guarded by religious groups".


From 1919 to 1926, a museum at the monastery opened up excursions into parts of the city, Koltsov said. He also said that children played in underground tunnels opened up by landslides until the 1960s, and that he has talked to a number of people who saw some of the books when they played in the tunnels as children.


But expeditions have yet to find the library or any of its books. In 1981, Koltsov's group excavation revealed structures, such as a water supply system, which Koltsov said prove the existence of the underground city.


A lack of funds hindered his group from excavating further than three meters below ground.


"We thought the excavation was going to be the first of many, but there was no money to continue", Koltsov said.


He is calling on the United Nations to organize a group to excavate this site and others around the world.


"I'm getting too old to do this any longer", Koltsov added. "This national treasure should be opened officially by the government. But politicians are too busy talking to do anything practical".